We hear it everyday, 'women in India are not safe'. This nation that is so proud of it's diverse cultures and traditions, each one of which tells to respect women, yet nobody can deny the above stated statement. Why is it so? Why is it that everyone agrees when the topic of women safety and women empowerment is raised, and yet we keep hearing new cases of violence and harassment against women.
Talking of Indian culture, we know that it is male dominant right in its roots. There is no denying that in the modern era women are challenging these centuries old restrains, which is quite visible in modern Indian societies, but the basic structure remains untouched. And if you think this only happens in the metro cities, then I am sorry to break this to you, but you are highly mistaken. A vulgar look in the eye, obscene touches and bumps, cheap gestures ,crude and cunning comments, it can take any form. There are endless ways which cannot be listed. Being a girl myself, I can say for sure that eve teasing has become an inseparable part of every girl's life. This awful act is not confined to dark, secret, empty streets anymore. It has become a common incident in public places as well. Women find themselves exposed to this threat all the time.
Now, as we know the term 'eve teasing' is the Indian way of referring to sexual harassment faced by women. I find this term itself faulty. The word 'Eve' alludes to the biblical story of Eve tempting Adam to drift away from the path of righteousness, and according to an Oxford English dictionary, 'teasing' is 'to tempt someone sexually with no intentions of satisfying the aroused desire'. Both these terms put the blame on the woman; she is the temptress who is not providing what she promised. The man's actions, or rather we should say the reactions, therefore become understandable, although still unjust.
Eve teasing in India has a lot to do with women empowerment and girl education. There is no point of such education if people treat women (who are as much human as men) with disrespect. The old mindset often blames the incident on women's clothing. This I find very lame. Many believe that women wear attractive clothes on purpose, just to lure sexual attention. Now, what would a sane person do when they find something attractive? Yes! They compliment it. They would not go barging onto it forcefully tearing it into shreds. That is simply wrong and insane. On the other hand, even if a woman is wearing scanty clothes, this does not give anyone the license to harass her. The solution to this lies in changing the mindset and inculcating morals and values in our education system.
And while we are talking about empowering women, I think women should also take some initiative and learn to protect themselves. They should learn that fighting back is the right thing to do and there is nothing to be ashamed of in raising their voice in this context. Although, you can always pretend to ignore all the vulgar signs but things would be so much better if you just look straight up into the eyes of the offender and speak up.